How To Hire Better Call Center Agents–Every Time


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Hiring the Wrong Call Center Agent is the Root Cause of most Contact Center Performance Issues, and it is a Significant Drain on your Budget & Bottom Line, Customer Satisfaction Ratings, Sales Results – and on your overall Call Center Team Morale.

Every Failed Hire Causes You to Throw Wasted Dollars Down the Drain Hiring & Retraining Recruits for the Same Call Center Agent Position. Not to mention the Lowered Productivity, Poor Morale and Higher Absences associated with Hiring a Poor Job Fit.

Typically, you will find 3 Different Types of Agents working in Call Centers:

• Top Performing Agents – “Grade A” Agents with the “Right Stuff” that pushes them to Succeed, and a Natural Compatibility with the Duties of the Position. You probably have a few in your Company now and wish that you could duplicate them.

• Adequate Agents – “Grade B” Agents who Perform their Duties Adequately Enough “to get by” – but No Better.

• Marginal Agents – “Grade C” Agents who have a High Level of Absenteeism, Low Productivity, Poor Performance & Poor Customer Satisfaction Ratings, and who have a Negative Impact on Agent Team Morale.

As a Call Center Hiring Manager, your Challenge is Twofold:

1st – How Do You Find a Sufficient Quantity of Quality Applicants for your Call Center Agents Positions?

Many North American Labor Markets have reached the Saturation Point for Call Center Agent Applicants in the Local Labor Pool. 64% of all North American Call Centers now find it a “Major Struggle” or “Somewhat of a Challenge” to Find Quality Applicants for Call Center Agent Positions. 37% of Call Center Employers are now Reporting “Severe” Competition for Call Center Agents by Other Employers.

2nd – How Do You Weed Out the Job Candidates Who Will Burn Out Fast Because They Aren’t Suited For The Work, and Identify the People With the Personality/Job-Fit, Soft Skills, Motivation, and Work Ethic to be Your Top Call Center Agents?

While Almost Everyone can Use a Telephone, Not Everyone is Cut Out to Work Successfully as a Call Center Agent.

Here are Best Practice Steps you can take in order to Recruit More Top Performing Call Center Agents.

STEP 1: Create an Agent Success Profile – Who are your Top Performing Agents?

Profile your Top Performing Agents for their Gender, Diversity, Economics and Education.

What “Must Have” Skills/Knowledge do Top Performing Agents need?

How do Top Performing Agents Profile in Terms of Typing Speed/Accuracy, Computer Literacy, Specific Industry Knowledge/Experience, etc.?

What are the Key Personality Traits of your Top Performing Agents?

• InBound Agent – A Persuasive Communicator Motivated by Security, Work Environment, Coworkers/Team, Service and Recognition.

• Inside Sales Agent – A Persuasive & Persistent Communicator who is Service Oriented, yet Motivated by Sales Opportunity.

• OutBound Agent – An Assertive & Persistent Closer who is Motivated by Income, Conquering Challenges and who Initiates Customer Interactions.

STEP 2: Create a Recruiting Strategy – Create a Recruiting Communications Plan that Identifies & Targets the Job Seekers that Meet your Agent Success Profile Criteria.

Step 3: Deploy an In-Depth Telephone Screening Process – Your Recruiting Advertising should use an initial Telephone Screening Process/Structured Telephone Interview.

Step 4: Deploy Pre-Employment Assessment Testing – to Confirm Personality Traits and Skill Sets.

Companies who deploy Pre-Employment Assessment Testing such as our SPAS Call Center Agent Pre-Employment Screening Software typically experience the following Benefits;

• At 1 Year Review, 90% Plus of Employers using SPAS have realized Call Center Labor Budget Savings of at least 5%, through Reduced Hiring/Training Costs and Increased Individual Call Center Agent Productivity.

• At 1 Year Review, 90% Plus of Call Center Agents Hired using SPAS are Rated by Employers as “Meets or Exceeds Expectations” in Work Ethic, Job Ownership, Responsibility and Customer Service/Sales Orientation.

• At 1 Year Review, 90% Plus of Employers using SPAS have seen Overall Call Center Agent Turnover Reduced by 50%.

• At 1 Year Review, 90% Plus of Employers using SPAS have seen “Quick Quit/Fast Fire” & “Bad Hire” Turnover (less than 3 month’s employment) Reduced by 80%.

• At 1 Year Review, 90% Plus of Employers using SPAS have seen Call Center Agent Absenteeism Reduced by 40%.

• At 1 Year Review, 90% Plus of Employers using SPAS agree that they’ve experienced Improved Call Center Agent Productivity & Enhanced Overall Call Center Agent Team Morale.

Step 5: Use a Structured Face-to-Face Interview – based on Core Competencies, Personality Traits and Skill Set(s).

Step 6: Have Your Candidates Experience a Job Preview – Depicting Day-to-Day Activities, Responsibilities and the Environment of the Call Center.

Step 7: Reference Verification – also Security Clearances/Drug Testing if required.

Use these Best Practice Hiring Steps to Recruit & Select New Call Center Agents who will fit your Employment Needs Better and Stay On The Job Longer. Your Call Center Agent Productivity Will Go Up – and Your Turnover Costs Will Go Down.

Read my speech on “How To Cost-Effectively Recruit & Hire Top Talent For Your Call Center” and my InQueue Magazine article on the same subject.

David Filwood
TeleSoft Systems
David Filwood is the founder and principal consultant of TeleSoft Systems, a call center improvement consultancy in Vancouver, B.C., that helps contact centers find, hire and train better employees. TeleSoft Systems is also the publisher of Service Personnel Appraisal Software (SPAS), a Suite of call center agent pre-employment screening tools.


  1. Looking at the characteristics of the job, you must also hire employees suitable with their character and skills. That’s a very excellent idea. Thank you again for a well-written article.

  2. Great article, you really highlighted some of the root causes of poor agent performance. However, I’d like to mention that perhaps another way to ensure top performance in agents is to treat them well. An agent’s attitude towards work will reflect on his/her call handling method, which is why it is essential to address their needs and concerns all the time.


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